Top Free to Play Steam Games (2019)
Steam has a lot of games. Like a lot, a lot. Finding something good to play can become a huge hassle because of how crowded the store space has become in recent years due to Steam’s lack of any kind of quality control. That’s where we’re going to help. From MOBAs to Battle Royales and everything in between, here’s the list of the top Free to Play games on Steam for 2019! The rules for this list are simple: the game has to be available through Steam, it has to be free, and for the sake of it we’ve ranked them by number of concurrent players to help you find what everyone is actually playing these days.
War Thunder is an arcade aerial-combat game in the same vein as World of Warplanes, but with options available to simplify the controls and interface to an arcade level or max them out to a hardcore simulator. You’ll select a group of planes or ground vehicles to take into combat and take to the battlefield. The differences in these modes can be massive, ranging from how planes control compared to their historical counterparts all the way to how your planes handle running out of ammo. Also, the different game modes are also restricted by vehicle type so that if you’re playing in a naval vehicle, you’ll be paired with others who are playing naval vehicles, etc.
The arcade modes are what I prefer to play. The two main game types here are Air Assault, a deathmatch mode, and Ground Forces. Ground forces sees you using tanks similar to World of Tanks, where as Air Assault and Deathmatch involve destroying the enemy air and ground vehicles to protect your base or deplete your enemies’ ticket count to 0. There are also events and historic missions that see you partaking in historical battle re-enactments, but these are only available to players on the Realistic or Simulator settings. If you’re looking for a hardcore plane simulator that you can simplify when you feel overwhelmed, War Thunder is for you.
Ring of Elysium is a relatively new Battle Royale shooter that boasts a genre first in the way of environmental hazards like avalanches that can eliminate players! There are also destructible elements of the environment themselves. Beyond this, it may seem like a by the numbers battle royale, but the visuals and level of detail in the map prove otherwise. Players will have to contend with things like bullet drop and managing the gear they have attached to their weapons to maximize what they can do at any given range. Skilled players make great use of long range weaponry, so you’ll want to learn to use every single tool you can to stay as far from a close range fight as you can. Unfortunately this hit in population may be due to the release of Apex Legends, but we’re focusing on Steam specific games for this video, so that game doesn’t count for right now. Despite this, the game still has a lot to offer.
For example, in addition to having a detailed map, it’s also massive. This sometimes works to the game’s detriment, because if you don’t drop in an area with some people in it, teammates or otherwise, it could be a good long while before you actually see any other players. That said, this provides an opportunity for you to plan your attack well in advance when the area begins to close in. If you find yourself in this situation, take your time and loot as many places as you can safely before you move in. Remember you have two timers to work with as opposed to one, so make the most of it.
Paladins is a more modern, comic book style take on the hero shooter formula that, while it often gets compared to Overwatch, differs quite a lot from Blizzard’s paid offering. Paladins gets new characters quite frequently, and alongside those characters come events that bring more lore, new maps, and new game modes to players’ hands. These events also include tons of new skins for characters, new mounts, and other cool unlockables for players to fight for through the new battle pass system.
Gameplay doesn’t differ a ton from Team Fortress 2, except that there’s a much bigger focus on team composition and each hero’s actual abilities. Your character’s powers are their bread and butter, and knowing which powers from which hero pair well with others and work better for certain objectives will guarantee a certain degree of success if you can execute on the ideas. The player pool for the game also just got significantly bigger with the introduction of cross-platform play for every platform except Playstation 4. Yes, even the switch can team up with users on PC and Xbox! Also, if you have a Switch, you should definitely grab Paladins on it. Not only is it free, but playing it anywhere you go if you have a mobile hotspot is an awesome feeling.
Path of Exile. This is probably my absolute favorite game on this list. For those of you who were unsatisfied with Diablo 3 and wish it was more like Diablo 2, this is the game for you. With an insanely massive skill tree, constant content updates, and a friendly, welcoming, tightly knit community, it’s not hard to see why this game still has the playerbase that it does. In fact, they’re preparing to launch their first ever convention in New Zealand, Exile-Con this year!
As one of the games on this list I have the most experience with, I have some advice for new players looking to join the ranks of the exiled in Wraeclast. Do not be afraid to look at build guides for your first couple of characters. Making a cohesive build on your own the first time out may seem easy at first but there are a lot of subtle nuances that can be hard to pick up on unless you’re a genius at statistics. Build guides will help you start to see patterns and give great advice specific for the types of characters you want to play and there are literally 9000 of them you can peruse to find one that’s just right for you to start with. They’ll explain everything from gear you should try to get to playstyle to how your gems should be socketed in the end game. My second piece of advice is don’t be afraid to spend points on defensive perks on the skill tree, especially early. Max life may seem like a point wasted when you’re trying to optimize for damage, but it isn’t. A lot of bosses do tons of damage and you’ll be grateful for the extra life and evasion rating/armor.
I think everybody should be familiar with Team Fortress 2 by now, especially if you’re a PC gamer. This is the prototype of the Hero shooter. Without the ground-work laid by TF2, there’d be no Overwatch or Paladins. Nine unique classes come together in a stylized, cartoon world to do battle over payloads, kill-scores, and ridiculous hats in this war-movie style shooter that boasts over 63,000 concurrent players.
If you’re new to the game, or are thinking about picking it up, here’s a few tips: focus on team composition and base it around the objective. Think about what characters your teammates are playing, and pick something that will complement them well. Medics and Engineers are great starter characters to help you get a feel for teamwork. Honestly there isn’t too much I can say about Team Fortress 2 that hasn’t been said much more eloquently by much better individuals than myself, so I won’t labor the point. If you like hero shooters, you can’t go wrong with TF2. It’s still fun today.
Warframe is a game we’ve shared with you all live on stream many times, and whose community has been very receptive of us and our efforts. This strong community support is likely why the game enjoys over 75,000 players on PC alone at time of writing. A lot of the reviews, including one from me, cite the fast, frantic, and buttery-smooth gunfighting and platforming as the main draw.
If you’ve never seen warframe in action, you may need some motion sickness pills the first time around as the game runs at a lightning fast pace. The largely mobility-focused combat can be dizzying, especially at first glance but once you get your bearings and master the crouch-slide-jumps and aiming while diving, you’ll be right at home. The game is structured a bit like Destiny, where you take individual missions with different objectives across the maps of different planets. Each planet has its own aesthetic and some even feature large, open world areas for you to explore, a recent addition to the game. You’ll pilot Frames, or suits of armor, each with their own special abilities you can use to help you in battle. You unlock more by finding blueprints and crafting material, although there are plenty you can unlock with real cash if navigating the sometimes patience-testing crafting system isn’t your cup of tea.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the only game on this list that comes close to the number of concurrent players that DotA 2 has, clocking in at 625,000 players at time of writing. It’s no secret as to why it’s so popular, either. The original Counter-Strike made a huge splash all the way back in 2001 and this stand-alone update on the classic formula is one of the most competitive esports scenes in gaming today. CSGo features new characters, maps, and updated versions of classic CS content to boot. Counter-Strike has engrained itself in history as one of the fore-runners of online shooters and I’m glad to see it’s still running today. The downside is this game still has its problems with hackers, but valve is continually working on its anti-cheat measures to keep their impact minimal and contained.
If you’re unfamiliar with Counter-Strike, it’s a fast paced reflex-based shooter usually centered around objective based play. This usually involves setting and protecting bombs (or disarming them) and eliminating the enemy team to make this easier. Between rounds you’ll purchase weapons to aid you in your bid for victory, and try not to pay too much attention to the racial slurs in voice chat. Counter-Strke GO can be difficult for new players to get into because a lot of people who play have been playing for a long time and are already insanely good, but if you like classic 90’s shooter gameplay then it’s worth investing time in.
This one came as no surprise. DotA is the game that launched a million clones and kickstarted a genre when it was only a Warcraft 3 mod. Its sequel took what made DotA so popular and expanded it both in visuals and in the roster itself. DotA 2 is an absolute juggernaut and the most played free game on steam with over 645,000 concurrent players at the exact moment of writing and over a million playing as the last 30 day peak. Now like any MOBA, DotA 2 has its moderation issues vis-a-vis the community, but it has gotten better over time. In fact, we encountered nothing but good-will while recording for our updated DotA gameplay video recently and hope to continue seeing this going forward. Despite the community problems, the strategic and even-paced combat and map control gameplay established by the original MOBA is still standing tall even after all this time.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or more and don’t know what DotA is, here’s a quick synopsis: You pick a champion from a massive roster, hopefully from a class that helps your team composition, march down the lanes with your minions, and try to destroy the enemies’ towers and base. In the meantime you’ll roam around fighting enemy team members, special objectives like Roshan, a giant dragon demon who gives you stuff if you beat him, and plenty more. Matches last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, but are full of dramatic ups and downs and are hugely exciting if you’re a fan of cooperation and strategy.
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